Another evening flowed by in the village. Wonderful Isaan foods were scarfed; some containing more chilies than others, and beers and other refreshing liquids were drunk to replenish the day's sweat drained mortal husks of native and falang alike. I stuck to my iced teas, knowing full well I had dehydrated myself this afternoon and that alcohol would only further deplete my system and end up giving me a severe headache. I felt good. My skin tingled from the day's sneaky rays of ol' sol passing right through the cloud cover and irradiating my unprotected flesh. I was warm, but not unduly so.
My muscles ached a bit, and my back throbbed a slow drum beat, but it felt good to have gotten done some things I had wanted to do, and the physical labor hadn't crippled me, as I was afraid might happen after going so long fairly much sedentary since the injuries to my back and neck in work. I felt fit enough, and according to my doctor's orders I had been refraining from lifting anything over 20 pounds, well, most times anyway.
After a few hours chattering away with everyone during and after dinner, and an hour or so watching the TV later, my wife and I set off for bed for the evening.
As the family sat around and watched TV I read a book by a black guy who belongs to a Thai related message board. He is an English professor from California and writes a good tale, this being an odd one about vampires that took me a while to get into, but once into it I had begun to enjoy the story and had been trying to finish it so I could return it to the guy who had lent it to me on my way back through his town on my return home a few weeks hence.
I lay on the bed reading, waiting for my wife to come back from her shower, intent on some sexual hankie panky before going off to sleep. Once she returned we played for an hour or so, fell to the mattress satiated, and she promptly rolled over and went to sleep. Hmmmm. So much for post-coital bonding. Once I finished my requisite after-sex smoke I resumed my book until I began to nod off about a half hour or so later.
I turned off the small reading lamp in the headboard, placed my book in the shelf behind me and lit a goodnight smoke in the darkness. I love a cigarette just before sleeping, and lay there inhaling my nicotine fix and reflecting on the day while watching the red glow of the ciggie track through the darkness of the bedroom. I finished the smoke, stubbed out the butt in the ashtray beside me and placed it on the floor next to the bed. Sleep slithered about my consciousness and I closed my eyes in welcome of it.
Suddenly, I felt someone sit on the end of the bed by my feet, which brought me fully awake. What the hell? I felt the bed shift under a weight that I would have guessed, if pressed, to be around the weight of a grown person. We have no cats, the dogs stay outside the house, and the bedroom door is closed and locked. It couldn't be Sis or daughter ... could it? Had my wife gotten up and gone to the hong nam (bathroom) without my noticing it as I started to doze?
I reached beside me slowly and felt her still lying there beside me. It wasn't my wife. The weight of the presence still could be felt by me, as though someone was sitting on the bed by my feet. I had a good mind to kick out at whoever it was, but something stilled me from doing so for some reason. It felt as though someone was sitting there and watching me in the dark. I was not asleep during all this; I was fully awake and aware. The hairs on my whole body started to rise, and goose bumps tightened my skin to the point of being uncomfortable. What the hell was this?
"Hello?" I said in the dark. "Who's there?"
A feeling of terror enveloped me, something I hadn't felt in quite a long time, and my heart, I noticed, was racing. I was also holding my breath. I quickly reached behind me and felt for the headboard light switch. As I found it, and switched the light on, the presence I had felt ... vanished. I would have sworn once the light was on I would see someone, who, I don't know, but someone, sitting on the end of the bed grinning at me over their practical joke.
This had never happened to me before. I'm not a believer in spooks, I'm not close minded as such, but until that night I'd never had what I knew to be a paranormal experience.
I sat up in the bed and looked at the sheet by my feet where I had felt the weight beside me. Nothing there. No imprint of someone's ass, no dent in the mattress, not a thing there. I rose slowly and went to the door. It was still locked from the inside. A chill ran over my flesh as I stood there. I looked about the floor by the end of the bed, thinking that maybe a pillow or blanket had been sitting on the end by my feet and had shifted off onto the floor, giving an impression to me that something had sat on the bed. There wasn't anything of the sort there or anywhere near the bed that could have done this.
I was puzzled, and muttering to myself. "Dammit! I know someone, or something, was there!"
What the hell had I just experienced?
I swear that I was certain someone had sat on the bed. I had felt it. I had HEARD it, the sound of the mattress straw, or cushioning, or whatever the heck is inside our mattress. We have it turned to the firm side, and it does make a distinct rustling or crackling sound when you plop your butt down on the end of the bed.
I wasn't dreaming I am sure of it. Whatever had happened had been physical, and I am not crazy, or prone to hallucinations or hysterics. I wasn't drunk, nor even drinking that night, and I hadn't had any pain meds that evening either.
Whatever had happened, had happened, and was real. I would swear to it on my life, but, exactly what had happened I had no idea.
I lay back on the bed and pondered the phenomenon until I finally fell asleep, with the reading light still lit I might add. Creepy!
I slept until morning without waking.
"Superstition is the religion of feeble minds."
Reflections on the Revolution in France
Upon awakening in the morning I noticed my wife was already up and about. I placed my hand on the sheet on her side of the bed; it was cool to the touch. She had been up for a while it seemed. I grabbed my watch and checked the time. Almost nine. I thought again about what I had experienced that past night, but shrugged it off as being too silly to even entertain in the bright light of day. It was a spooky moment in the dark of night, only that, nothing more. A night terror as I was passing from wakefulness to sleep, frightening and mysterious, but nothing more. I climbed from the bed and wrapped a tribal silk man-skirt around myself, a gift from Mama, and trod toward the hong nam for a needed shower, careful not to stub my toe on the damned, and dangerous, threshold.
My wife was puttering about the kitchen area out back I noticed as I shuffled by the rear screen door on my way to the bathroom. I spied her sweet tush bending over the table doing some domestic chore and I changed direction, going outside to say good morning, and possibly snatch a pre-shave morning kiss for myself, always a nice start to any day as far as I'm concerned. She noticed my coming out the door and turned and greeted me with a big smile.
We exchanged morning greetings and I did manage to sneak a rather big kiss for myself, and even a quick squeeze of her firm rounded buns as I grabbed her in a bit of a hug too. She asked me if I was hungry, to which I agreed I was, in fact, famished and could even devour her whole right about that moment. To which she giggled knowingly of my allusions and replied, "Yeah? Sure?"
Hmmm. A morning romp seemed to be a distinct possibility.
"Where are Sis and look sow (daughter)?" I asked her slyly.
"Sister still not come from bring look sow school." she smiled back.
"Well? What are you doing out here then? Shouldn't you be in the bedroom?" I sternly suggested.
She smiled and said, "Okay!" and off we went back inside to have a pleasant morning interlude, locking the back door behind us so we wouldn't be interrupted in our early morning play. I love this woman, have I said that yet?
Afterwards, as we sat in bed, we could hear Sis arrive in the truck out front. My wife tried to get up out of bed, but I asked her to stay a bit longer and lie there with me as I smoked a cigarette. I hate to 'fuck and fly', preferring to luxuriate in the afterglow of a good love-making session. I began to tell her about what I had experienced the night before. As I told my story her eyes became wider and wider, and she became very excited and animated, and kept interrupting my tale with "Yeah?! Sure?! Yuh?!" as though she knew exactly what I was speaking about and it excited her very much. She shrieked, and giggled, and clapped her hands like a child as I explained my search for some cause to this phenomenon. I found this a bit odd and disconcerting, but finished the story.
When I was done she said simply, yet happily and excitedly, "Grandpa come visit you. Come see my Sammee (husband)!"
To which I replied, "Huh?"
She jumped up from the bed and said, "Deaoh deaoh! (Wait, wait!)" and ran from the room. (Why does she never stub her freaking toe on that damned threshold?)
"What the hell is she up to?" I thought, as I finished my smoke and stubbed it out.
I could hear her talking excitedly and loudly to someone outside in Lao. She soon rushed back in with her sister in tow, and proceeded to instruct me to tell my story once again to Sis, which I did. They seemed very excited, overtly so.
I told Sis what had happened, she listened to my tale much more calmly than my wife had, and nodded sagely now and then as I explained what I had thought I had experienced. When I was finished she said solemnly, "Mama will be happy to hear this. Her Papa come to see you and wife last night. Big good luck for you and wife. Good luck for family!"
I was thunderstruck. They actually believed a ghost had visited me last night, their Grandfather's ghost! And this was good news and supposedly good luck too?
"Uh, Wife, ... Sis, ... just how is this supposed to be good luck? And why the hell is he visiting me?" I asked, somewhat mystified, as a chill tickled my spine. Cripes. Freaking spooks wandering about the bedroom at night! Don't know if I like this much or not.
They proceeded to tell me all about Grandpa, the older members of the family, Grandpa's brother, (Sister Ming's Papa) and some family history in the way of explanation to this creeped out falang.
"Death lays his icy hand on kings;
Scepter and crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor, crooked scythe and spade."
Contention of Ajax and Ulysses
(To be continued.)
(The Central Scrutinizer)
This story was written in 2003. All rights reserved by the author.