Our house was set on an acre of land with a full woods in the back that ran down to a two lane freeway. All mutant creatures, scary hitchhikers, vagabonds and killer animals returned from the dead in the pet cemetery had easy access from the freeway, stopped only by a wimpy chain link fence that circled the perimeter of where our delicate dogs patrolled only when they felt like it.
We got used to the noises of the night, but still looking out into the dark, dark blackness, broken infrequently by the lone headlights flashing quickly from the highway, gave free roam to indulge our massive, young imaginations.
When Mom was out at late night meetings, fun would ensure in the Kuhns household. The first entertainment of the evening was: pizza! Dad didn't cook (except for being master of the bbq), so pizza was the treat for mom's working late. After we gorged on our favorite Franco's pizza, the games began.
Dad would go around the house and one by one turn off all the lights, plunging the house into a stillness that was disturbed only by our nervous tittering.
Once the house was completely dark, all the sounds of the night were audible, and scary. Monsters, ghosts, pirates, spiders - who knew what lurked in the dark corners.
Dad would hide. It was our job to find him. We'd push out our gangly brother in front, because he was the man (all three feet and forty pounds of him). We'd grab onto his thin shirt, and stay as close as possible as he stumbled through the darkness feeling his way. At a moment's notice we were ready to run and scream and in terror and excitement. We would bump into everything, giggling and breathing in fear and anticipation. [We were not the stealth detectives that we thought we were.]
How our father held his breath that long we don't know, because he was a smoker and coughed a lot but it was our job to search all three floors of the big house.
Into the closet, nope! It wasn't him among the old furs my mom packed there. Nope! that wasn't him hiding under the bed, but in the distance, we began to hear a low, rolling groan. What was that? An animal? A beast of satan? A dark plague coming from the night? An M. Night Shyamalan movie?
AAA! We'd run back to the safety of the dimly lit foyer, and re-group and re-plot. Gathering our courage, we'd group together again, brave brother leading the pack, to find our father. Was he hurt? What if he was really had gotten eaten by a monster?
We'd creep through the house, which seemed to get darker and scarier by the minute. Into the bathroom nothing hiding in the shower. Down into the creepy basement - nothing there. Up the stairs...Wait, what was that?
It was getting louder, closer. We'd make our way into the walk-in closet. This is where all the bad memories and clothes from the 60's were hidden.
"RAWR! I got you! I'm going to get you little childrens!" He would leap out from the black pit and we would run away, squealing and laughing.
We'd play this game until dad was tired and we were ready to face the night alone.
He'd send us to bed, and would settle in for an evening of TV news. Upstairs, we'd try to sneak out of our own beds because we were still scared and wanted to huddle together under the covers. The wooden floors would always give us away, no matter how lightly we tread.
"You kids get to sleep up there! I'm not telling you again. Don't make me come up there!"
We'd laugh in a mixture of fear and defiance, to surely try it again.
Creep creep, creak creak. Wait, nothing from downstairs. Creep creep CREAK! Running as fast as we could and leaping into the bed together to hide under the covers.
Oh my god! We thought the game was over! Was this a real monster!?
Up the stairs came the breathing, heaving THING.
We grouped at the end of the bed, so as to see what was coming to end our young lives.....
We peered into the dark hallway, down the stairs. It was coming. There was no escape.
Suddenly 3 burning red fire coals, two demonic eye sockets and a mouth showing the burning portal from the pits of hell were descending upon us, the bad children who refused to stay in their beds and sleep!!!
The 3 points of fire got closer, ready to take us down into the depths... never to see our parents again.
We screamed in real terror, and all of a sudden the lights were all turned on and our father was standing there holding 3 cigarettes - one in his mouth and two in front of his eyes, and laughing hysterically.
This monster abated when my father quit smoking but the lesson to stay in bed was burnt into our souls....
Happy Father's Day!!