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.
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I have a few or more. But most of those we can’t put in print.
I had a ghostly presence in my bedroom a few years ago. It stopped when certain items were removed from the garage below.
Yeah, I had weird shit happen too until I took Grandma’s body out of the garage. That was a strange couple of years.
One that leaps to mind was losing control of car while driving too fast on a great country road that was part of my commute. Many great corners and elevation changes, and I drove too fast down there daily. One superb S-bend with a dip in the bottom (like Eau Rouge, race fans) I completely messed up, and was heading sideways towards a wall and certain death. That was very scary. I missed the end of the wall somehow and ended up fairly unscathed in a field.
Lee Harvey Ramone says
It’s amazing you’re even alive today, JK!
Beer Richards says
4 years old. The beginning of the show “The Electric Company” yelled, “Hey you guys!!!” before the theme music started. This followed Mr. Rogers. So if you let the end of Mr. Rogers calming wonderful bliss go on you’d get immediately hammered with this. As soon as Mr. Rogers ended I’d run in my room and put a pillow over my head.
My 4 year old boy has the same terror of the muppets. The first time he reacted I immediately remembered those Electric Company motherfkrs. Oh yeah I will beat down some muppets for him if necessary.
I am old enough to remember that.
I am old enough not to remember that.
When I was a kid, somebody on the neighbouring farm was shooting at something, and I heard a bullet whizz past my head and thunk into a nearby tree. I hit the deck.
I was flying down the road when I see the familiar outline of rooflights… at the speed I was going, it was surely going to be hand over your liscensce son… I slowed down rapidlly, and as I cruised by the cop still a few mph over the limit, he’s doing paperwork… Whew.
I don’t know if it would classify as frightened, but it certainly got my attention and concern cranked way the hell up when I got that 2am phonecall when my mum was in the hospital at, litterally, 2:15am. She’s still kicking, but there where a few days of dancing along the edge.
Thats about it. Havn’t driven fast enough yet to be scared. (from: If you are not just a little bit scared, you are not going fast enough).
Not going to print some of my scariest moments–too much trauma. One that I will share, though, is related to 9/11. I was scheduled to fly out of Philly to northern England on 9/12/2001 to be an exchange student for the semester. I remember my mom rushing into my bedroom the morning prior, waking me up with her panicked voice telling me to turn on the tv. I thought, “Great, a plane crashed the day before my first (and only ever) international flight,” but of course the horror was just unfolding.
Oh, and I recall that I was simply terrified of my bedroom closet when I was three years old. The doors had to be closed at all times, especially at night. For some reason, I believed that Mr. T lived in my closet and would escape to terrorize me if the closet doors were not closed!
To this day, if I see a closet door ajar, I close it. =-)
Two occasions come to mind.
First was when I was walking home the two blocks from 7-eleven one December evening on D St. in northeast DC. A guy stopped me to ask the time, then displayed a semiautomatic pistol and said to give me “all the bills you got.” I gave him my eight dollars. As I walked away, I kept waiting for the bullet in my back which luckily never came.
Second time was on a beautiful Tuesday morning in September 2001. My parents lived in the East Village, less than a mile from the World Trade Center. After hearing about the plane crashes on the news on the car radio, I arrived at work to find everyone milling around in the parking lot smoking. I called my parents seemingly every 10 minutes all day long, always met with a busy signal or “all circuits are busy.”
I’m going to echo the 9/11 nightmare. Having family living in nyc and not being able to connect willl haunt me to my. dying days. Having a sister in the nypd and not being able to locate her ( where the fuck is she) and a sister on a flight to D.C. (where the fuck is she) is enough of the willies to last a lifetime.
As a young kid having our house robbed while we were sleeping upstairs should put me in therapy for decades.
Franky T says
I had an older brother who would torment the living hell out of me. Told me scary stories about monsters and shit in the closet and the hand under the bed ready to get me. Terrified, I would shiver myself to sleep each night. I hated that fucker!
Root 66 says
Just a couple of “code browns”:
-We lived near Xenia, Ohio in 1974 when it was essentially wiped off the map. I was eight years old. I can still remember cowering under our stairwell, hoping not to become a statistic. When the sky turns green and it gets really calm outside, it STILL freaks me out! I am not a fan.
-I nearly fell off of a storage rack in a freezer that was covered in ice from about 25 feet in the air. I think I may have invented some new words then, but it really scared the stuffing out of me. I still don’t know how I didn’t fall.
-I saw the ghost of an Indian (Native-American for the P.C. crowd!) doing a silent war dance in our basement when I was down there by myself as a kid. I used to think it was a dream, but years later I discovered that others in my family had had very similar experiences in that house…I still get a knot in my stomach just thinking about it.
Incidentally, I MUST work the phrase, “my sphincter was like a bolt-cutter” into a conversation some time this week!
That fire thing sounds like the Beverly Hills supper club fire near Cincinnati in 77.