The storm whistled through the night.
We were warmly tucked into our beds, with our teeth brushed and our bellies tight. The flickering light from the corner lamppost slivered past the opening in our drapes and cut across our legs, safely hidden beneath the covers.
As a child there were no sounds from the television at night. The only television in the house was upstairs in the family room and it was turned off when we got sent to bed at 9 o'clock each night. Every sound was tremendously amplified by the sheer silence we were accustomed to. Late at night my brother's heavy breathing would be a source of comfort to me, as I would discover years later when I no longer had it, but in the early evening hours after our lights went out and my eyes turned to the darkness around me, my imagination surged.
As the rainfall intensified, the rain and wind combined to create a smattering action against our windows. It sounded like a perpetual throwing of pebbles, as one might do to call one room's attention without waking up the entire household.
I imagined somebody out there calling to me. A dark figure in the rain, wearing a hat and a dark, long overcoat; his face hidden behind the darkness and the storm, but I figured him to be somehow deformed and hideous.
As the night progressed, other noises would join in. The dripping sound from leaks in our ceiling: drip, drip, drip...hitting the tile in the dining area. The roofing never properly held out the water. The moisture had gotten so bad that we had big yellow stains along the walls in the living room. I had a series of mushrooms growing down from the ceiling right above me. During the day I would sometimes put a chair on my bed, climb up there with my pocketknife and cut them down. But they wiggled, and moved around eerily. It felt like I was killing a frog or something. So I would usually just let them hang, then suffer through the night trying to look at them in the darkness, wanting desperately to avoid seeing them.
The winds blew stronger, and the rustling of the leaves outside became louder than the rain. All these sounds created a wild succession of images in my head. There seemed to be scores of people outside, charging through the yard and beyond, in the streets. They were up to no good. There is always a sense of evil in the things that you cannot see.
I remember waking up the next morning, unsure of what had happened. It always took a few moments to shake off the nightmares and confront them as such; to come back to reality - differentiate between the actual and the imaginary. Then the day would take on a different tone.