Gorillas in the Dark

In Phoenix, as a child surrounded by green lawns, palm trees and pools, completely oblivious that a desert surrounded this steaming metropolis where jelly sandals melted on asphalt and fried eggs cooked on the hood of a Datsun, I dreaded the sun. Which probably makes sense considering the numerous sun burns and heat stroke it gifted upon me. However I also feared the dark.

Realizing that this was a fear that allowed other kids to easily and endlessly tease me, I tried to overcome it. Acting as my own phobia coach I would practice sitting in the bathroom with the lights off. Of course this exercise ended badly when my own murky reflection came into view once my eyes adjusted. Because naturally that was not my reflection but instead dreaded Bloody Mary. I would scream out of the bathroom and seek protection with my oversized white German Shepard.  I was certain she had magical powers to protect me as I plotted a new way to get over my fear of the dark.  Coming up with nothing I would head back to the bathroom hopeful that Bloody Mary had moved on to other bathrooms.


Sooner than later bedtime approached. Thankfully my pale blue room came equipped with a nightlight.  Unfortunately , it only provided a halo of light that barely spilled past the base of the lamp.  As my bedroom door was shut the room darkened. Only scratches of light tore through the window covered in cat’s claws ivy that seemed to sprawl as I watched. The shadows grew larger, eventually touching each other.   I had trained my eyes on the objects in the room, yet a very unfamiliar shape filled the space close to the far corner of the room.  I tried to remember what exactly was there, but nothing came to mind. And then the shape did seem familiar, very familiar as the face of a Gorilla emerged larger and larger in my mind. The same outline seemed to fit.  I retraced the objects in the room, deep breaths and reassurances with every friendly Snoopy, Bunny and stack of books. Still the unplaceable shape remained. 

I had no choice but to turn on the light. I knew I would not be able to sleep with a potential Gorilla in the room. Of course this took courage because my brother had engrained in me that as soon as the lights went off and the nightlight fog began, the crocodiles which were kept behind the drain in the pool, were released into my bedroom. He was much older and quite an authority on almost everything and I believed him. So I took a huge leap from my bed to the threshold of the door.  My relief of landing not on knife-like teeth lasted only momentarily, as I tried to steady myself I crashed headlong into the doorknob. I still have no idea about the Gorilla.  And I am still afraid of the dark, luckily the scar on my head is hidden with hair. Most fortunately living in the city it seems we are never without lamplight.