It was sometime in the early spring. I’m not sure I remember how old I was; perhaps 11 or 12; definitely pre-teen.
Rob and I have both referred to our Aunt Mildred and Uncle Sans’ house in Connecticut in previous posts; this is where we spent many Thanksgivings in our early years. However, Thanksgiving was not the only time we would get to enjoy visiting this large home in the woods of Taconic, Ct.
On occasion, our Aunt and Uncle would invite a good portion of the extended family there for a long weekend in the spring or summer. This was the situation with the Spring in question. Rob, myself, mom and dad, our cousins, Lorraine and Robin with their parents, and our Aunt Fil were invited for the weekend. We always enjoyed our time there. Great fun with beloved family, acres of woods to run and play in, a nice sized pond stocked with various fish and a large house to explore and marvel at. It promised to be another fun-filled weekend.
As was customary, we would leave the city and get there after dark on Friday night. That was a highlight because of the excitement of the drive, seeing our cousins and getting settled in the house. We were never forced to go to bed too early when there and we would play inside and out until we were too tired to stand.
Saturday was much the same with everyone meeting in the dining room for a fun breakfast of New York bagels, Italian bread, and pastries. As soon as breakfast was over the adults did whatever adults do, we kids would head outside for a day of fun and adventure in the woods surrounding the house.
On this particular Saturday, Aunt Mildred decided that we would go to dinner in the nearby town of Great Barrington. Don’t hold me to that name, but I think that was the name of the town. After treating everyone with dinner, she thought that perhaps we would all go to a movie. It sounded wonderful to everyone but me. Remember that I mentioned my age; I was getting very close to those troubling years known as “the teens”. I was already starting to exhibit some of the traits of those interesting years. Hanging out in public with the entire family was not considered “cool” and I was trying very hard ( and very unsuccessfully) to be cool.
Thus, I decided that I didn’t want to join the group and that I would rather just stay home and “watch television”.
Mom was, of course, definitely against it, but after much discussion and talk with dad and other family members, she acquiesced to the “he’s not a baby anymore, if he wants to stay, we should let him” argument.
I remember Rob giving me a look that said;” are you sure you want to stay in this house by yourself??” He, more than anyone knew that I was afraid of my own shadow under normal conditions…. but, staying here? In this house? In the woods? Not a good idea. But!, hey, I was almost a teenager and I was “cool”, right? This would be a piece of cake.
So, late afternoon, everyone packed into two cars and headed for an enjoyable dinner and movie in Great Barrington. I watched them pull out of the driveway and felt “empowered!” Here I was, by myself, no one to tell me what to do, when to eat, ( of course the fridge was always busting at the seams with food, this was an Italian family, after all), what to watch. It was just me, on my own; I had arrived at the “coolness” starting gate.
The first thing I did was sit on the front porch and simply take in the scenery. It was quite beautiful. The yard extended for a good distance in the front on the house, with the before mentioned pond in the foreground. Beyond that, the beautiful woods and the magnificent trees that populated it. The other three sides of the house were also surrounded by these woods. In the distance, from the front porch, one could clearly see some of the mountains of New Hampshire. I sat and just relaxed, taking in this beautiful contrast to the concrete and asphalt of the inner city. When the sun began to slowly descend behind the mountains, I decided to go in and grab a bite to eat.
I raided the fridge and had some lasagna, meatballs, bread and a few cannolis. It felt good to make whatever I wanted and eat whenever I wanted. After doing a semi-adequate job of cleaning up I strolled to the large living room. This room was decorated in American rustic and had the feel of being a nicely built cabin. There were three shotguns mounted over the mantle of the large fireplace and next to them the trophy head of a large buck with impressive antlers. I’m pretty sure that the trophy head had come with the house, as my uncle was not really much of a hunter.
However, I hope you get the feel of the room. The lights were shaped like lanterns adding to the rustic feel. I then decided I was really going to be cool by sneaking a sip of the whiskey my Uncle Santino used to make the Manhattans that would be sipped by the adults before dinner. I was always impressed with the beautiful bottles he had that held the Whiskey. Bottles with an ornate style that said “old west”. I remove the top of one of the bottles and took a nice big slug…. and thought I was going to die. I gagged and coughed and could barely breathe for at least five minutes. So much for the cool kid having a drink while the parents were gone. I ran to the fridge and downed two small bottles of ginger ale before I felt normal again.
I strolled back to the living room and looked back out to the front yard through the large picture window. It was then that I noticed that it wasn’t quite looking as beautiful as it had earlier when the sun was still up. It had faded behind the trees now and the yard was semi-dark. Shadows fell where before was clarity and the woods had dramatically darkened. It had gotten very quiet. It suddenly had a “scary” feel to it.
I, being the cool kid that I was, began turning on more lights. I looked at the clock. Crap it was only seven…. it would be hours before they were home.
Television! That was the answer! I would go back to the family room and turn on some TV. That would keep my mind off the growing darkness and the woods that were now infringing on my “safe space”.
So, flicking lights on as I went, I made my way to the family room. As I mentioned, this was a big house, and one had to pass through a number of other rooms to get to your destination. My heart had definitely quickened as I made my way, turning on every light that I passed, on my way to the family room.
I moved a chair close to the old black and white television and turned it on. Remember, back in the day, there were only a few stations to choose from, so it didn’t take long. The first station had some sort of variety show that I had no interest in, the second station had “the Twilight Zone”. This was not good. The music alone scared me. Then there was a scene with some evil-looking doll whose head turned menacingly toward the viewer. That’s all she wrote. If I had had a brick in my hand I would have thrown it through the screen! With eyes closed as much as possible, I turned the television off and practically ran back to the living room.
Darkness had fallen now and the outside lawn looked ominous. There was one lone outside light near the pond, but that did nothing to help my growing fear. To be honest it added to the building fright. As I peered out of the window looking toward the pond… “what is that?! It looks like a person standing there! Just standing there starring into the living room!” I moved away from the window, convinced there was some madman standing near the pond….. looking at the house … waiting to make his move.
So, by now I am hearing things as well. A noise? A sound? Were that footsteps I heard? Coming from upstairs??? It can’t be! I am here alone, being cool. I had to use the restroom… I had to pee really bad (terror will make one do that).
One problem…. bathroom is upstairs… where I heard the footsteps!!! Probably that damned doll walking around from the twilight zone!!! What now?
Wait! There is another restroom! Downstairs! In the cellar! The fruit cellar!
Are you kidding me??? The fruit cellar??? It’s either upstairs with the twilight zone doll walking around or down in the fruit cellar with…… have you seen Physco??? Yea, down there with her!!!
Back to the family room, I run…. by now, I have every available light on in the house. The madman by the pond has moved… probably close to the front door by now…. the evil doll upstairs is still moving around….. head-turning in all grotesque positions. The corpse is rocking back and forth in her chair in the fruit cellar. I will hold this pee in until it comes out of my ears!!!
Then, another sound…. what was that??? Cars!!!! I hear cars!!!!! They are home. Thank you, God!
I quickly run through the house, shutting off the lights….I go and flop in a chair in the family room and turn on the television ( to anything but the Twilight Zone).
I lounge back into the chair to look as relaxed as possible. Everyone starts coming in and the feeling of relief and safety is absolutely overwhelming( of course, I don’t show that.
Mom asks how I did.
I tell her everything is good and I had a good time. ( with a straight face, no less)
She says she was worried about me. I laugh( thinking about the mad man near the pond.)
I say I really have to use the restroom and casually get up and walk slowly towards the stairs( can’t let them see me about to wet my pants). I make it to the restroom, knowing that all is safe now because my family is home. The doll walking around upstairs has gone quiet.
I casually walk back downstairs where everyone is gathered in the living room talking about the dinner and the movie. Rob looks at me…. a little kid looking at his older brother. His look says…. “wow, you stayed here alone! How cool….”
My heart says…
“if only you knew…”