Tuesday, October 02, 2007


An October Moment...

One of Thomas' jobs every morning and evening is to feed the dog. Often he has to be reminded, but even then he performs his chore with diligence and a minimum of farting around. In mid-May, that changed.

My Big Brother and I had just returned from Elkhart, Indiana, on the rather sobering and disquieting errand of searching through my parents' wrecked car for a few precious effects. In addition to my grandmother's gold bracelet and my mom's recipe book, we also retrieved several thousand baseball cards (which my dad was bringing to Thomas), a travel bag full of crushed jewelry and other assorted oddments we either thought we'd need for insurance purposes or in some numb, clutching mode, just bagged and put in the back of my car.

Nearly everything smelled of blood and motor oil or else was covered in a patina of slivered glass, so we put all of these bags--rather unceremoniously, I must admit--into a wheel barrow in the garage, right next to the box the coroner's office had used to send what valuables they'd taken custody of. BB and I had already gone through that box, and left in it my mom's empty shoulder bag and the two camera bags that had contained my parents' camcorder and digital camera, respectively (both of which turned out to be in perfect working order and which my brother now owns).

That night, as Thomas went to feed the dog, he stepped out into the garage--where we keep Blaze's kibble--and almost immediately stepped back in. "Something's wrong with the lights," he said.

I poked my head out. The garage was bathed in a quirky light, and I noticed that the lightbulb nearest the door was flickering on and off, like a ship's signal lamp. I experimentally flicked the switch near the door, drowning the garage in inky blackness. Then I flipped the switch again. The light was no longer flickering.

But the next morning, it was flickering again.

There seemed to be no pattern to the flickering. It happened for the next several days, sometimes for just a brief pulse, other times more or less constantly.

I would be lying if I told you I wasn't hoping for something like this. Anyone who's read about my experiences living in an 18th century farmhouse knows that I have some affinity for the unseen. And growing up, I remembered talking to my parents countless times about what we would do in the unlikely event any one of us was to actually die. It was generally agreed that we would try to send a sign to who ever survived, some small, non-scary, possibly wonderful thing to tip our loved ones off to the fact that we were okay.

The thing was, I didn't believe that this flickering light was the sign.

I've been in rooms with flickering electrical equipment before, and in my experience, whenever it's caused by something unseen, there's an accompanying, I don't know, sense that something's not quite kosher. Sometimes it's nothing more than a prickling sensation on my neck, other times it's a full-blown sense of being in an actual cold spot, but it's always there.

This time, I didn’t feel anything.

I mentioned the flickering light to Her Lovely Self, who finally asked the question.

"Do you think it's your parents?"

I so wanted to say "Yes." But instead I answered honestly, "No, I really don't think so."

After about a week of the flickering light, I got out a stepladder and climbed up to the light fixture. As it turned out, the bulb was almost rotated out of its socket, which would have explained the sporadic light. Opening the garage door or the door to the house would have created enough of a vibration to set the bulb flickering. Sadly, I screwed the bulb firmly into place.

When I came down the ladder, Thomas was watching me from the door. He looked from me to the light, now burning brightly and steadily in the garage.

"What was it, Dad?" he asked.

"Just a loose bulb, buddy," I said.

"Oh," he said, sounding at once relieved and disappointed. "I thought maybe--"

"I know," I said, cutting him off. "But there was nothing special about it. See?" Thomas took a good long look up at the light, then nodded to me. We turned to go in the house.

And that's when the bulb blew out.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

My mother(deceased)messages me through the radio on occasion.

No, I don't need to increase my meds, just wanted to let you know I can relate, and, I hope the bulb blowout was indeed what you wanted it to be.
The house I live in was built in 189?...which in itself is cool enough, but every other night or so my housemates and I hear the sound of, what can only be described as, a manhole cover spinning to a halt on concrete. It seems to come from the livingroom, but no one can explain it. I love it. =)
Oh, how I love October at Magazine Mansion.
That reminds me-tellus about the duck nightlight. please?
that gave me chills! The flickering light COULD have been your parents. Who's to say HOW the light got loose in the socket. Apparently they thought you needed a bigger sign lol. Love these kind of stories!
Woah! Great story, MM. Reading it right before bedtime probably wasn't the best idea, though.

It sounds like your parents have been busy reassuring you and your family that they're safe now and they love you.

I'm with Little Gator - I completely forgot about the duck nightlight! Enlighten us :)

So glad that it's October. Thank you for giving me something to look forward to in what will undoubtedly be a very looooong month.
Ooooh. Duck night light.
Shivers from the top of my head to the base of my spine. Goosebumps too.
*another tear*
"And thats when the bulb blew out."
Ah HA! That'll teach you to underestimate the signs. A smackdown from the otherside ...truly delicious and memorable. I love your folks' sense of humour!! :o) What a great tale on all levels, MM.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?