Thoughts & life experiences of a Chicago area graphic artist

07 December 2017

Moonrise (a recollection)

"Moonrise" art © O. Douglas Jennings. All rights reserved.

"Attention, Please."
Every head in the classroom turns to look at the loud-speaker mounted above the classroom door.
"School will be dismissed early, due to the rising of the Full Moon."
"All right, class", Mrs. McCluskey nervously intoned, "Leave through the door in an orderly manner".
I am near panic. I must get from my 5th-grade classroom to the Kindergarten class on the lower level to gather up my little brother Martin. We live just close enough to be unqualified for the secure bus service. We must make our way home on foot. And as a five-year-old, he won't be able to run as fast as is needed.

Hand in hand, Martin and I leave the safety of the school house door to make our way home. Quickly as possible we walk to the edge of the school yard near the old maple tree next to the fence and topping the small hill that slopes downward to our street. All of our senses are hyper-alert as we hear a rustling of bushes from the old abandoned Stout's house across the street from the hill. Muscles tense, adrenaline flow escalating.

The menacing growl barely commences before I dart down the road. Martin practically suspended horizontally at the end of his hand and arm that I grip like a vise. We hear the feet pounding the gravel and asphalt behind us. The panting, horrible guttural noises sound terrifyingly near.

I cut across the neighbors yard and somehow make it to our front porch. Martin is crying as I reach for the door handle and before we know it we shut the door behind us. But it is now on the porch and wants in. We know this because the beastly howl that it makes in desperate frustration emanates from the other side of the wooden, locked panel door.

Incomprehensibly it might not protect us as blow after powerful blow rattles the door, distorting it with convex shaped spasms until at last, with a violent crash it gives way. And I wake up.

This one of the actual dreams I would have as a grade-schooler who could think of no greater, more abjectly, tortuously horrifyingly monstrous threat than the classic werewolf.

Frankenstein's monster and Dracula had at least some semblance of humanity. I would think that confronted with either of those two creatures of darkness I might have a chance. Either I could outrun them or perhaps (I had a high estimation of my intellect) outwit them. But the sheer animal irrationality and primal beastliness of a werewolf totally vexed my powers of defensive strategic calculation.

Even in my twenties, if I was working late in the office where I was employed and no one else was around, I would have an occasional spasm of irrational terror that a werewolf might enter the building to stalk and attack me.

This has faded over time. I'm surprised I didn't become a gun owner. It's funny that when one lives long enough, the dark isn't scary anymore. I'm not talking about the common sense caution that anyone should have if he or she is out at night around deserted streets or darkened alleys. But a dark room or closet or even an empty house at night is unable to evoke the fear in me that it did at one time. There are greater fears I have these days. Fears of economic down turn. Fears of catastrophic illnesses. But even those don't hold the same sting of terror that once agitated my mind when I thought of my imaginary lycanthrope.

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