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Reflections October 2016

As I Recall...

The Walk Home After the Halloween Movie

By Jerry Ginther

At 10 or 11 years of age, I wasn’t afraid of anything except the dark, strange noises in the dark, shadows, black cats, and witches and werewolves following me in the dark. Of course you can understand that. A dog howling in the next block just had to be a werewolf.

The full moon was already high in the night sky as we exited the movie theater on the town square. Many of the kids had rides waiting for them, but I did not. I had walked to the theater in the evening twilight and knew I would have to walk home alone. The walk was fairly long, probably a dozen or more city blocks, and only a couple of those were in the downtown area where the streets were well lighted. Once I crossed the main highway, there would be only a dim street light on each corner.

It was the late 1950s and folks in the small town of Sullivan, Illinois, were not particularly concerned for their safety on the streets after dark. Otherwise I would not have been allowed to go to the late night show. There was no automobile at our house; it was walk or miss the fun.

As I started down the dark street with the lights of town behind me, I became more aware of the full moon and the poor visibility between the streetlights. The moonlight was just bright enough to cast some eerie, deep shadows along the streets, making every tree and bush a formidable black form to approach.

At that time it was not uncommon for dogs to roam the streets at night. I could hear their tags jingle in the darkness, but sometimes never seeing the dog – only hoping it was a dog and a friendly one. Sometimes they would run out of the shadows suddenly, causing me to freeze in my tracks until I was certain it was not a wolf. Keep in mind where I had just come from. At 10 or 11 years of age, I wasn’t afraid of anything except the dark, strange noises in the dark, shadows, black cats, and witches and werewolves following me in the dark. Of course you can understand that. A dog howling in the next block just had to be a werewolf. Uncertain, I detoured over to the next street, nothing to get excited about.

Still many blocks from home, I was becoming uneasier about my situation. It was decision time. Should I continue to walk, carefully checking my surroundings, or should I try running as hard as I could? Approaching another intersection and a welcome streetlight, I regained my composure for the moment. Then, realizing that I had to keep going, the uneasiness returned.

I was passing a house in the middle of the block when I heard a low growl in the darkness. Now, two seconds from hysteria and too terrified to run, I backed down the street, peering into the darkness. It had to be a werewolf, or maybe Dracula, or a zombie. I remained under the next streetlight until I was sure nothing was coming for me. Surely, nothing would bother me there.

Just a few blocks from home, I decided it was time to make a break for it. I took a deep breath and charged out into the dark street. My feet pounding the street were all I could hear, but I knew something was coming for me.

Under the next light was a cat playing with something, and yes, I knew it was a black cat. I also knew the moonlight had just dimmed because the witch to whom the cat belonged had just ridden on her broom in front of it. Stopping under that light was out of the question! Passing that light with panic button fully depressed, I knew that was just one more intersection before home. I thought I could make it.

I charged up the steps to the front porch, not noticing my granddad sitting in the swing until he spoke. “Are you in a hurry?” he asked.

“No” I answered, barely able to speak. “I made it.”

As he stood, I checked to be sure there was nothing behind me. Once inside he wanted to know if I had some reason to doubt I would make it. “The way you ran up the walk and steps, I thought something was after you,” he said.

I knew it was worse than that. I knew there were several somethings after me, but now safely inside, breathing still ragged, I said, “No I just wanted to hurry home so you wouldn’t worry. Isn’t that why you were waiting for me on the porch?”

Yep, we had each other’s number. He figured I’d seen at least one ghost, and I knew he was concerned and waiting up to be sure I made it home safely. Neither of us was confessing.

 

Jerry Ginther grew up in Sullivan IL and now resides in Texas. He has a degree in Christian Ministry and is the author of "Acquiring the Benefits of Biblical Wisdom, "available in e‑book format on Amazon.com.

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